Sunday, 6 May 2012

Red-rumped Swallow in YORK!

The day got off to a flyer with a year tick Grasshopper Warbler reeling away while I was walking the dogs, there was also Sedge Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff all in the same field/hedge area. I've had my eye/ear on this field for a while as it looks perfect for groppers, finally its paid off!

A short while later I fancied a change of scene so went over to Heslington East on the edge of York where I was going to meet up with local rarity finder extraordinaire, Tim Jones and the finest young artist out there, Jack Ashton-Booth - check out their blogs. I started at the east end, they started at the west and no sooner had they arrived I got a phone call from Tim: "Whimbrel heading south". I looked around but couldn't see it. This was a new site record so gutted I missed it! I made do with 4 Wheatear hopping around my feet. A quick glance up and I spotted a Red Kite gliding into view, finally got a local area year tick! Phoned Tim, and he managed to get some good video.

I carried on my walk, enjoying male Yellow Wagtail and a stunning White Wagtail feeding on a small flash.  There was more Wheatear, including some impressive males. I grabbed the following shot on my phone as the total for Wheatear reached at least 12 birds.

Wheatear (phone-scoped)

I glanced over to look at the lake and suddenly there in front of me low over the water was a lone Red-rumped Swallow!!! I quickly got it in the scope - what a smart bird!  I was expecting to turn back and hunt over the lake, it was the first hirundine I'd seen at the site during the morning. I needed to let Tim and Jack know about it but knew if I took the scope off it I'd lose it. Frustratingly the red-rump kept going north east and didn't turn round to feed. I lost it in the distance and got straight on the phone to Tim and Jack.  Tim shot over to the raptor watch point to look for it but had no joy. During this time I was aware of many more Swallow, House Martin, Sand Martin and Swift all appearing. This all coincided with a wall of cloud that was heading our way with a noticeable drop in temperature. The Swallows and Swift were clearly heading north, passing straight through not hanging round at all, most were silent but several were calling. It was a mix of excitement and frustration, but we all gave it an hour or so during which time many birds were noted flying through. In  the meantime we had a 13th Wheatear.  This is about the 5th or 6th Red-rumped Swallow  I've had in the UK but the first I've found here I think. Enjoyed watching them last year nest building in Cyprus. They are such cool birds!

I believe this will be the 4th York Area record if it gets accepted. I think there are 2 accepted, with 1 pending from last year. Will post some details on the local status later in the week.

Joining in the search for the Red-rumped Swallow we met up with Chris Gomersall. We all decamped up to Castle Howard as we thought there was a chance that the hirundines may drop in there to feed - on arrival there was however no hirundines!! Whilst at Castle Howard lake we scoped around and we managed to find 3 Mandarin - 2 drake and 1 female birds. They showed well (but fairly distant). Some rubbish photos off my phone below of a fairly decent York area year tick. Also had a drake Shoveler, lots of Tufted Duck with some very vocal and showy Marsh Tits too.  Eventually we did encounter some hirundines but in no real numbers.

Male Mandarin Castle Howard (with Grey Heron, Mallard and Wood Pigeon!) (phone-scoped at distance) 

Male Mandarin (phone-scoped) 

Male Mandarin (phone-scoped)

On the way home I called into Thorganby briefly where I year-ticked a couple of Common Tern that were busy fishing in the floods - a couple of pics below, finally the fence posts are starting to appear from the flood water!

Common Tern (phone-scoped)

Common Tern (phone-scoped)

All in all a great day, finished off nicely with a singing Cuckoo at the horses field in Escrick.

1 comment:

  1. Have to agree about Red-rumped Swallow. Went decidedly off-piste in Turkey on an impromptu trip to an un-advertised Roman site in central Turkey. The swallows were often too close to focus on. Awesome